Yorkshire look back to their best in Roses duel
NOT many days of Roses cricket can have been prefaced by a regimental brass band playing hits by the American rock group Bon Jovi.
Renditions of Livin’ On A Prayer and You Give Love A Bad Name echoed around the ground before the sides came out for the start of day two.
No doubt the likes of Lord Hawke and Wilfred Rhodes would have been turning in their graves – and not because they were keeping time with the music.
But even the traditionally dour theatre of Roses cricket has entered the modern era, one unrecognisable from the days when such contests were conducted in an atmosphere of austerity and neutral spectators were told: “It’s got nowt to do with thee.”
On the second day of the 256th County Championship meeting between the teams, it was perhaps another of Bon Jovi’s most famous songs, Bed of Roses, that should have been played by the brass band in front of the old pavilion.
Not only would that have been pertinent to the fixture itself, but it rather summed up the comfort with which Yorkshire seized control of the match with a performance as polished as any guitar solo by Richie Sambora.
For perhaps the first time this season, the champions were irresistible with the ball as they established a position from which, weather permitting, they should go on to beat the current leaders.
In a nutshell, Yorkshire looked every inch like the side that swept to back-to-back titles in 2014 and 2015, and who have high hopes of completing the hat-trick this year.
Particularly impressive was the discipline they displayed as they dismissed Lancashire for 196 to establish a first innings lead of 112.
After the hosts’ first innings ended 11 balls into the morning, when Steve Patterson was last out, caught in the gully for 45 as Yorkshire added seven to their overnight 301-9, the home team rediscovered their mojo with leather in hand.
Granted, they were made to work hard in the early stages of the Lancashire reply as the visitors reached 46 inside 15 overs before the first wicket fell, Patterson drawing a loose drive from Tom Smith that was nicely pocketed by Gary Ballance at backward point.
But that just made it all the more satisfying for the home side, who made it look easier than it was as they induced a collapse that put their own first innings total into perspective.
Yorkshire, of course, have missed the all-round skills of Tim Bresnan, who is making his first Championship appearance of the season after a calf injury, and he took the second wicket at 56 when Haseeb Hameed was smartly caught at second slip by Adam Lyth.
Jack Brooks pounced with the first ball of his second spell when he swung one back to trap Luke Procter lbw, and Brooks gained another lbw with the fifth ball after lunch to get rid of Alviro Petersen as he attempted to turn to leg.
Lancashire fell to 69-5 when Patterson had Karl Brown caught behind as he tried to withdraw his bat, the wicket giving Patterson his 300th in first-class cricket in his 113th appearance.
In the hour or so after lunch, Patterson and Brooks were magnificent as they constantly threatened wickets and dried up the runs.
Brooks is primarily a wicket-taker, of course, but his economy rate yesterday was also excellent – at one stage he had figures of 11-7-16-2 – and perhaps the greatest compliment one could pay him was that he had bowled with all the firepower of himself and with all the frugality of Patterson, as though Yorkshire had two ‘Dot-Ball Kings’ operating in tandem.
Indeed, from the first 22 overs they bowled between them, Patterson and Brooks conceded only 29 runs, pressure that created wickets not only for themselves but also their colleagues.
Bresnan returned to have Steven Croft caught at third slip by Jack Leaning, and Lancashire fell to 92-7 when Tom Bailey – unable to cope with Liam Plunkett’s pace – fended a catch down the leg-side.
When Adil Rashid trapped Neil Wagner lbw with his first ball, the visitors were 126-8 and needing to reach 159 to avoid the prospect of being asked to follow-on.
Some positive batting from Liam Livingstone and Kyle Jarvis averted that threat, with Livingstone pulling a long-hop from Rashid for six to ensure that Yorkshire would have to bat once more.
Rashid rounded things off, however, when he had Jarvis stumped and Simon Kerrigan lbw, Livingstone finishing unbeaten on 60 from 83 deliveries. Lyth and Alex Lees added 41 for the first wicket in the Yorkshire second innings before Lees edged Smith to the wicketkeeper.
Wagner had Leaning caught at second slip and Ballance caught behind from a fine rising delivery, but Lyth (44) and nightwatchman Patterson saw Yorkshire to 77-3 at stumps, a lead of 189.